Musings on optics, physics, astronomy, technology and life

Boston.com has posted an intriguing photo essay on Edwin Land and the history of Polaroid Corp. I’m no stranger to the basic story — I grew up in Massachusetts, and my first camera was a Polaroid. (Since the era was less celebrity-oriented than today, it took me a while to realize that the “Land” in the phrase “Polaroid Land Camera” referred to an actual person, rather than to the requirement that the camera operate on land instead of underwater.) Still, it’s not that much of a stretch to call Land the Steve Jobs of his day, as in the text accompanying the first picture.

Nevertheless, the photo essay contains some intriguing images I hadn’t seen before, including one of a wooden mockup of a prototype pre-SX-70 camera. (The caption says 1960, but the mockup strongly resembles the cameras sold in the late 1960s and early 1970s.) I also did not know that Land wanted his papers and correspondence burned after his death (he passed in 1991), and the rest of his stuff burned down with his house in 2005. What a loss to history. I prefer to err on the side of preserving too much rather than too little.

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